Remember the Ripple Effect
Civility means stepping up and owning responsibility for the feelings of others. Our behavior has an impact beyond the person we're interacting with. When we treat someone with kindness, she's more likely to show kindness to the next person she encounters; the same goes for insensitivity.

Slow Down
It's always good to wait a beat before reacting when challenged or upset, however tempting it may be to express exactly what we're feeling in the moment. Yogic breathing, please. And when it comes to social media responses, it's safest to wait at least ten minutes.

Work on Your Social IQ
There are three parts: social radar (an internal sense of what someone needs from you), social style (the energy you present—do you radiate openness and positivity?), and social knowledge (enabling respectful communication with those outside your immediate orbit).

Be a Continuous Learner
Read from many news sources. Listen to those whose perspectives differ from yours. Engage. Allow your point of view on issues to evolve with the changing times.

Assume the Best
Albert Einstein is thought to have said, "I think the most important question facing humanity is, Is the universe a friendly place?" It's up to us to decide whether to believe in a friendly or a hostile world. When you trust in goodness, that's what you'll tend to find.

Lew Bayer is an author and the director of the National Civility Center.

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